Fallen role models: What to do when they fall from grace

Recently there has been a rise of scandals involving high profile individuals in different spheres such as politics and entertainment.

Take for example the accusations of sexual misconduct against Oscar-winning actor, Kevin Spacey, famous for his role in the critically acclaimed TV show, “House of Cards”. To date, there have been ~15 accusations and has led to uncertainty over the future of “House of Cards”.

Recently there was also the scandal regarding Nobuhiro Watsuki, the creator of the beloved Rurouni Kenshin/Samurai X manga/anime series, who was charged with possession of child pornography. These recent events have sparked discussions regarding topics such as abuse of power and questions if people should continue being fans of the produced work.

After hearing about these scandals, I thought about how some people might have previously viewed these individuals as role models for their craft. As an actor they inspire to be like, or admired for their ability to craft out an engaging story. With that in mind, I decided to pen down my thoughts in this article to talk about how one should deal with the potential fall of one of their role models.

Part 1: No one is perfect and the dangers of hero worship
The first thing to realize is that humans are fallible and that your role model probably isn’t the perfect human being that you envision them to be. 
There are some extreme people who fall into the trap of blind idol/hero worship. A good example would be pop idols and some of their rabid fans.

These die-hard fans are on a whole different level and hold every word coming out of their favorite idol as holy gospel. They would blindly follow any advice coming from their idol, regardless of that idol’s credibility to dispense it. E.g. Taking nutrition advice from a pop singer instead of a nutritionist. Any negative news or aspects of their idol is quickly dismissed and ignored. Reckless behavior such as taking drink driving and heavy consumption as drugs might be seen as being a cool rebel.

When the role model is accused of a wrong-doing, it’s important to come to terms that perhaps there are certain aspects of that role model that you should not strive to imitate, such as singer Chris Brown physically assaulting his then girlfriend Rihanna. I think we can all agree that physically assaulting someone else is not proper.

This blind faith in a role model is extremely dangerous as it highlights a lack of critical thinking and the ability to discern right from wrong. It’s critical that the individual be able to think on their own and be able to learn only the good qualities of the role model and not emulate the negative qualities.

Part 2: Summarize your learnings and look for someone else
Once you are able to separate the good from the bad, it’s time to note down the good qualities and look for a new role model if your previous role model has been accused of something so heinous that you can’t look past.

Back to the example of Kevin Spacey, you might have learned a lot about acting through his Masterclass but will not accept his behavior of sexual misconduct. In this situation, you could still see value in his teachings on acting through a rational lens and be able to separate that from his unacceptable behavior outside of acting.

Once you summarize your learnings from that role model, it’s best that you start looking for other role models in the field that not only have the professional know how, but also have qualities outside their craft that you admire. The magic of the internet is that you can easily find another role model in the same field.

Part 3: Pursue your dreams regardless of external factors
The most important point to note is that regardless of what happens to your role models, these events should not dissuade you from continuing to chase your dream.

If you are an actor and your role model has fallen from grace, this should not be a reason to stop you from continuing your path to be an actor. It’s important to be intrinsically motivated to achieve your goals regardless of any external factors.

If you give up on your dream because a role model of yours falls from grace, it might be because that wasn’t really your dream in the first place. 
In summary, role models are great to have and act as a guiding light to aspiring individuals. Role models however are also only human, and we should never forget to still focus on the one person that really matters, ourselves.

In summary, role models are great to have and act as a guiding light to aspiring individuals. Role models however are also only human, and we should never forget to still focus on the one person that really matters, ourselves.